Heavy Shower (6)
They had kissed but never talked about love or liking each other.
What did body-obsession really signify?
In the first place, they weren’t lovers. They were husband and wife, and a family.
《A partner isn’t a lover, they’re family. It’s different from the love between lovers.》
《Indeed. Perhaps we should call them colleagues.》
《More like comrades.》
The words that the noblewomen said with laughter rang through her skull.
Rumble, the sound of thunder boomed softly in the distance. Looks like it was finally coming down—the rain.
At that moment, a voice rang out from behind her. A voice that she had longed to hear but really didn’t want to hear right now.
Aristine did not turn around.
Tarkan stared at his wife, who was dazzlingly beautiful even from the back, and walked closer.
He wondered if she came because she wanted to see him too, and a tiny smile graced his face as he reached out to grab her wrist—.
Aristine shook his hand off.
Tarkan looked at Aristine with confusion, his rejected hand, frozen in place.
Aristine grit her teeth.
She knew Tarkan did nothing wrong.
But the moment he touched her, she couldn’t hold back the emotions rising to her throat.
She was angry.
She felt even more upset because even at this moment, Tarkan looked good, dressed in his battle armor.
Because it all pointed to one very clear and certain emotion.
Aristine bit her lips with frustration.
“Rineh? What’s wrong?”
Seeing Aristine look like she was about to cry, Tarkan was shocked and grabbed her shoulders.
Aristine clenched her fists at the sight of Tarkan looking at her with worry, no longer paying attention to the fact that he was brushed off.
Wasn’t that foolish?
“Let go of me…”
At the faint tremble in her voice, Tarkan’s eyes swept over Aristine, then he raised his head.
A starkly different gaze from the one on Aristine scanned the warriors.
At his questioning gaze, the warriors lowered their heads, seemingly helpless at what to do.
They began to retreat silently, leaving Aristine and Tarkan alone. Same went for the court ladies who were tactfully watching from behind.
Even after everyone was gone, both of them remained still.
Silence settled over the two of them.
Aristine stubbornly fixed her eyes to the floor and refused to look up, while Tarkan waited with his hand on her shoulder.
An unknown amount of time passed.
Raindrops began to fall, one by one.
Tarkan frowned and looked up at the sky.
“Let’s go inside first. Your body is weak; you’ll get a cold if you get hit by rain.”
He wraps his arms around Aristine’s exposed shoulders.
Aristine bit her lips.
Why was he so tender?
Aristine refused Tarkan’s hand, which was carefully pulling her, and swiftly raised her head.
“Tarkan, I heard you have a first love that you can’t forget.”
Tarkan’s breath caught in his chest.
Those were words he never expected to come out of Aristine’s mouth.
Aristine’s eyes quivered when she saw the startled look on his face.
She wondered what kind of answer she desired when she asked such a question. But in the end, when he confirmed it like this, her heart felt like it would fall apart.
“Then why did you kiss me?”
Her trembling voice was weak. In spite of herself, resentful words left her lips.
And Aristine didn’t like any of that.
“…Please excuse me, Your Highness Tarkan.”
Aristine straightened her back and leveled her shoulders. Thankfully, her voice did not tremble this time.
Aristine walked past Tarkan with her stride as graceful as usual.
Tarkan grabbed her arm.
Their eyes met in mid-air.
The drops of rain had become denser in the meantime.
Only each other’s eyes remained clear in the world which had become cloudy rain.
Upon seeing the expression on Aristine’s face, Tarkan flinched.
“I will pray for your success, Your Highness.”
It was a polite and rigid tone. So much so that he could feel the cold walls.
Leaving just those words behind, Aristine slowly walked away.
As the cold rain descended on his body, Tarkan blankly at Aristine’s back.
* * *
The warriors were used to foul weather.
The ceremony wasn’t going to be delayed or canceled just because it rained. It was simplified a bit, but it was still carried out.
After Nephther’s speech to boost the morale of the departing warriors was over, Aristine ascended to the podium.
The warriors stamped their feet rhythmically, paying their respects to their Lady.
The thumping of the ground seemed to shake the heaven and the earth.
Aristine answered them with a smile.
Their hearts swelled with pride at the sight of Aristine shining brightly like a guiding star even in a dark night.
The warriors loudly banged their breastplates.
The next moment was utter silence.
The earth-shaking rumble and the sharp echo of the breastplates died down, leaving only the sound of rain.
Amidst the silence, Tarkan stood before his Lady.
Aristine’s gaze on him was as firm as always.
Tarkan knelt down before her.
Everyone watched with bated breath.
The sight of a great warrior in full armor kneeling before his beautiful Lady, made the audience feel excited.
Aristine held out her hand towards Tarkan and Tarkan took her hand respectfully.
The moment their hands touched, Aristine’s eyes twitched, but it was very brief.
It was a subtle reaction that only Tarkan, who was right in front of her and watching her, could see.
Tarkan looked at her face and slowly lowered his head.
He pressed his lips against the back of her fair hand.
Remembering how those lips had touched her own this morning, Aristine wanted to quickly remove her hand.
But she clenched her hand tightly and tried to endure.
His hard yet soft lips lingered on the back of her hand for a while, as if it wanted to leave a mark, then it moved away.
Tarkan looks up at her again.
Aristine helped him to his feet with a smile, and raised their clasped hand to the sky.
The cries of the warriors reverberated through the sky, as if to drive away the clouds of rain.
Aristine looked very much the same as usual as she blessed the warriors and boosted their morale.
Actually, she looked even better than usual.
The few warriors who knew that a strange mood had formed between Tarkan and Aristine after the first love talk, inwardly sighed with relief.
They had been wondering what to do but it seems things were resolved after they left.
In the midst of the cries, Tarkan called out to Aristine.
“It was sincere when I kissed you.”
However, Aristine didn’t turn to look at him. She still had a light smile on her face.
Just as the roars died down, Aristine lowered her arm and let go of Tarkan’s hand.
The two of them faced each other again.
The sound of rain hitting the curtain above the podium was deafening.
“May you be victorious.”
Aristine dropped those formal words and turned around.
She walked away with a majestic and graceful stature. With the bearing of the Lady that all the warriors wished for.
Tarkan squeezed his empty hand, which was now void of warmth.
He wanted to hold Aristine back.
Grab her, turn her around, look into her eyes, hug her tight, and…
What was he going to say to Aristine?
He kissed her because he loved her and wanted her.
But what about his first love?
However, he couldn’t just watch Aristine get further like this.
Tarkan grabbed Aristine’s arm as she was about to get down from the platform and turned her around.
The sparkling skirt of her dress spun vibrantly, and her silver hair swam in the air.
The next moment, Aristine was pulled tightly into Tarkan’s warm, firm embrace.
Cries even louder than before rang out, deafening their ears.
But to Aristine, it all felt distant, along with the sound of rain. Only Tarkan’s body temperature felt vivid as he held her tightly, like he would never let go.
His voice was extremely clear.
“I’ll be back soon, so wait.”
Something warm and soft touched the top of her head.
By the time Aristine lifted her head in surprise, the warmth had already disappeared.
The sound of warriors banging their breastplates and the sound of raindrops hitting the curtain resonated together.
The sounds that shook the entire world felt like it was shaking her heart. Aristine clenched her fists tightly and came down from the podium.
After coming down from her podium, Aristine touched the top of her head, where Tarkan’s lips had touched.
She didn’t even know herself who she was calling an idiot.
**Next chapter will be a little short.